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Nash
(stranger )
09/19/08 07:32 PM
populate an eBay store with an existing inventory  

(((((JUDYYYY))))) :)
Hi Judy! & everybody.

I have been attempting to get some answers to a few questions and I wonder if you could steer me in the right direction. I am pasting a copy of a post I made in another forum below that explains what I am looking for. I would appreciate any input you might have on this subject.

What is the most efficient way to instantly populate an eBay store with an existing inventory?

What is the most efficient, automated way to transfer product data (pictures, descriptions) from a spreadsheet of inventory and/or existing ecommerce platform website, create listings of these products, and upload those items into an eBay store?

The problem:

I own an e-commerce platform store (Drop ship storefront, instant store, e-store) that has several thousand products. I am trying to figure out, either a fully automated way, or the least time consuming way, to list these products in an eBay store. I know there must be a way to do this automatically. This is currently being done by several people on eBay already. I am currently attempting to reverse engineer how they are integrating their inventory directly into eBay. These sellers have identical inventory on both their websites and their eBay stores. I know that they can’t be manually creating 5000+ listings. I am having trouble figuring out where to start.

I am assuming that they are doing this one of two ways. First, they could be using some type of existing service that converts these website items, pictures and descriptions, strips out the shopping cart code and other proprietary ecommerce platform information and leaves a “clean” listing that can be uploaded to eBay through some type of auto listing software such as Turbo Lister. One of the reasons I believe this to be done by a service as opposed to a manual process is that the stores and listings I have seen a few of these sellers create are extremely professional and organized.

The second way they could be doing this is they are taking the inventory spreadsheets from the drop ship company and somehow integrating the pictures, which are separate but identified by SKU numbers, and somehow uploading or integrating this data into a program like Turbo Lister etc... This method would be more advantageous for me as I have several drop shippers available to me with very large inventories and they have their whole inventory in spreadsheet formats much like the ecommerce platform does. The reason I don’t think they are doing it this way is that management would be a nightmare. I would assume they would have to use some type of service that allowed them to “sync” updated inventory spreadsheets with their current eBay store items so that both new and obsolete/discontinued product listings could be automatically updated.

So basically I am looking for the most efficient way to instantly populate an eBay store with an existing inventory. I have not been a Powerseller on eBay for a few years now and could be missing something obvious here. Perhaps one of the secondary auction software solution sites like Vendio offers a service like this now and I just don’t see it? Keywords of search term variations I have been using to attempt to find a solution are; eBay, integrate, database, spreadsheet, import, inventory, automatic, bulk product upload eBay, live inventory feed, excel etc.. am I on the right track?


Do you have any suggestions as to how I can automate this process?

Should I be looking for a service that will do this for me?

Should I be looking for a programmer to do this?

I am also assuming that AW2K would not have this function. Is this correct?

Thanks in advance for any and all input!

Nash




bluepennylady
(Pooh-Bah)
09/19/08 08:05 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: Nash]  

Nash,

Well yes Vendio does provide services along those lines to the tune of $29.95 per month, x per listing and 1.25% of the final value fee for each time sold. You pay the monthly rate as well as the x per listing regardless of what you sell.

I have seen and gone through Vendio's new software recently, (like just last week at a business conference). I was not impressed. Lots of errors. The inventory sheet is nothing but a glorified Excel spreadsheet which price points is populated by going to eBay and retrieving what similar product like it sold for recently. It doesn't work well unless you are logged online as everything is retrieved from Vendio or eBay. But they do offer a website service. I just can't think of a good reason to give the provider a cut of the final value fee or selling price in conjunction with subscription and a price per listing. Putting the pencil to it makes it very expensive.

The second thing you need to keep in mind is listing using a drop shipper although allowed on eBay does have restrictions and eBay is going to start cracking down and enforcing those restrictions and guidelines. Not that drop shipping is a bad thing,you just need to be aware of the rules concerning offering drop ship product on eBay. As the product is not in your hands and eBay does have rules about it.

Auction Wizard is an Auction management tool. Not an e-Commerce tool. However, there are some workarounds for uploading individual items for sale to your own website.

You can convert the website thumbnail templates to HTML and insert Paypal Buy Now buttons in the description field of items you want to offer on your website. Configure an Aw2000 website, add the hyperlinks on your website or navigation and use AW2K to upload to your website. When someone buys something, you have to manually change the Auction lot status to Sold not shipped, generate an INvoice and update the websites so the listing is pulled off your website (that is if you don't have anymore of that item, if you do have more, then you don't have to remove it) And then proceed with invoicing the customer as usual.

I know that business consultants tell sellers to stay away from Turbo Lister and Seller's manager Pro as they are not good tools for managing auctions or your business. Auctiva and Vendio users leave both software providers because of the cost, errors, lack of functionality, etc. I deal with them almost everyday. (and I talk to the folks at business conventions who just don't stay with them)

Now you can take an Excel spreadsheet inventory, save it as CSV, format the columns to the corresponding Inventory Items field and import into AW2K. I do it all the time. Meaning I can import the reference id, inventory category, Auction title line, Start price, item cost, reserve price, buy price, just not the images. Images are added later. I can even import descriptions if they are in the Excel spreadsheet.

Now from the Inventory items in AW2K after they are ready to create auction lots, you can go to the Grid view, highlight the Inventory items you want to create Auction lots for, right click, select your eBay store profile and click create auction lot. If you highlight 50 records, just wait and AW2K will create 50 auction lots,

Then all those Auction lots can be queued for listing in the Grid view at one time as well. Of course you already know how fast it is to list. It isn't hard to get 3000 or more listings running on eBay using AW2K. I've had well over 4000 running before no sweat.

I know I haven't given you all the information you asked about but at least there is something to start some dialog about



Judy/blue

Visit my eBay store!
http://stores.ebay.com/bluepennylady?refid=store
Visit our website too!
http://www.pennyworthsales.com

Nash
(stranger )
09/19/08 08:55 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: bluepennylady]  

That is why I came to you Judy, I knew you would give me the whole scoop. Thank you.

I had a feeling Vendio was going to be the answer to that. I briefly looked at there prices last week and I was shocked. I was hoping they were not the guys I would need to do it LOL.

I experimented with AW2K a while back iimporting small amounts of data in CVS. There were three limitations that made me think it was not possible.
1. The pictures being seperate.
2. Although the spreadsheet for my ecommerce website inventory includes descriptions, they are not the full descriptions for some reason. Each product on the actual webpage has a more detailed more desirable description. This particular platform has a live inventory feed that I thought I might be able to get around that with somehow.
3. Not sure with AW2k how I would keep the inventory updated/managed. With thousands of products many are added and removed everyday and a new inventory spreadsheet is released.

The fact that the perfect auction listing with a nice picture(s) and description is just sitting there on my server is frustrating. There is one ebay seller in particular that I know is either tied into the live feed or using a service to do this. His auctions are exact duplicates of his website products. Exact HTML, everything, but like I said before the shopping cart is removed and in its place a "other related items" box had replaced it. The pictures are even already hosted for him!

I am assuming the drop ship issues you are refering to on eBay are the new 24 hour tracking info rule?

Nash



bluepennylady
(Pooh-Bah)
09/20/08 05:39 AM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: Nash]  

Nash,

No not a 24 hour tracking rule. I am not quite sure what you are referring to on that.

Using a Drrop shipper and you do not have the product in your hand or your own facility is considered a "Pre-sale". It is only allowed on a limited basis and you must guarantee the buyer will have their item in at least 30 days. Here is the link to the policy at eBay

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/pre-sale.html

The only reason I mention it is because the seller's non-performance policy also comes into play should you have a listing or listings running, someone buys the item(s) and your drop shipper can't fulfill that order, Even if the colors are not currently available or a size, it isn't the drop shipper who can get into trouble with eBay but it is you. And they are going to crack down on it.

Linking to the picture on your supplier's website can be done using AW2K as long as the supplier gives you permission to do so. You can use their URL for the image instead of uploading images. Now that does mean you don't use a Listing template but instead create Auction lots in HTML. You just add the image URL in the HTML so it points to the suppliers server.

I am up to speed on Vendio because I went to a business conference last week and they were one of the sponsors and speakers as well as an exhibitor.

You are correct, images are not included in an import of a spreadsheet.

How do you know the other platform has a live inventory feed? They could be using an essex file or even RSS feeds to do that. That could be used. Save the essex or RSS feed back to you computer in a xml file then to a csv file and imported.

If your drop shipper's inventory availability is going to change that often how are you going to handle live auctions on eBay? I mean you cannot allow auctions to run if the qty isn't available which means you have to end auctions. and if you are saying they update the inventory everyday, you could possibly be ending auctions everyday. I would think that could create a red flag at ebay.

No matter what you use for populating your webstore and list, if product availablity changes that much, you will have alot of maintenance involved..



Judy/blue

Visit my eBay store!
http://stores.ebay.com/bluepennylady?refid=store
Visit our website too!
http://www.pennyworthsales.com

mouse
(member)
09/20/08 08:25 AM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: Nash]  

Hi Nash

Can you ask this other seller how he did his auctions? Is he in competition with you or is that something you just don't ask?
You never know, he could be very helpful!

Just a thought!


Mickey

Visit my eBay store!
http://stores.ebay.com/MickeysEndoftheLands?refid=store














Nash
(stranger )
09/20/08 12:53 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: bluepennylady]  

Judy,

I could be wrong about that 24 hour rule but someone mentioned to me that eBay will now require you to send a tracking number within 24 hours of payment. I had just heard that when I made this post and have not had a chance to research if it was true.
The pre-sale issue is a bit complex but the main company I use does have a very high fulfillment rate. I would have to tweak that as I went and would of course gradually add to the store and listings to make sure I did not get into trouble with this.

I did not mean to imply that they update their inventory that often. I was really more worried about when they did add or remove something how I would be able to compare what is in AW2K already and what was not. Do you think you could export your current inventory into a spreadsheet and do a comparison to the new one in Excel? Price changes are the thing that really concern me. It seems that my platform releases spreadsheets monthly that include; price changes, discontinues SKUs and new products.

I had made the assumption that the pictures were being hosted on their website. After closer examination of the HTML I found that the pictures are actually hosted on a similarly named domain that is completely separate. They are listed in a directory and stand alone similar to AW2k. Not sure why they have it set up like that. Why do you think they would move the pictures to a separate location?

“How do you know the other platform has a live inventory feed? They could be using an essex file or even RSS feeds to do that. That could be used. Save the essex or RSS feed back to you computer in a xml file then to a csv file and imported.” Great idea, I am going to investigate that immediately.


Does AW2K have the capability to “update Pre-Filled Item Information”? Or to compare imported data to existing data? Would I need to export the inventory in order to “compare” it?

Thanks for all your help! Nash



Nash
(stranger )
09/20/08 12:54 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: mouse]  

Hi Mickey!

I actually thought of doing that. I just don’t see why the person would tell me. I mean I would be direct competition with him/her. We are both working off the same platform with exactly the same products. I was going to try and find someone that was doing something similar on a different platform and ask them but I am finding that a difficult task.
Nash




bluepennylady
(Pooh-Bah)
09/20/08 01:03 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: Nash]  

Nash,

I looked through every bit of documentation I have concerning seller rules and find nothing about a 24 hour rule. You do have to specify handling time now. so if your auctions state you ship within 1 business day from receipt of payment, then that is required. You can change that setting to whatever fits your business model.

tracking numbers are not required although they are highly suggested. And keep in mind, unless you are shipping FedEx or UPS, the number is really not a tracking number, it is really a delivery confirmation number. At least with the USPS> You can purchase tracking numbers on Express mail but not priority, parcel or First class just delivery confirmation numbers.

The "Pre-Sale" policy really isn't that complex of a policy. In short, eBay really wants the seller to have the item they have listed on hand (literally in their own facility) but in order to open the market up to drop shippers, they require you can fulfill the buyer's purchase within 30 days. And you must plainly state in your auction description the item is coming from a drop shipper.

This particular policy was covered in depth at the conference I just got back from. That is the only reason I am familiar with it.

Lots of businesses host their images separate from their other data.

Yes you can export the entire Inventory Items into a csv spreadsheet. I do it at inventory time 4 times a year at the store.

I have saved the essex files back to my computer and then saved them again into csv before. Just not that long ago. Worked pretty good. the RSS feed was a bit more challenging to do as there is stuff to delete out of the feed. I would have to really dig into the depths of this over 50 memory to recall exactly what I had to change

AW2000 does not currently support "Pre-filled information". I will pass your inquiry along to tech though.



Judy/blue

Visit my eBay store!
http://stores.ebay.com/bluepennylady?refid=store
Visit our website too!
http://www.pennyworthsales.com

Nash
(stranger )
09/20/08 01:56 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: bluepennylady]  

Geez sorry Judy i didn't mean to send you off on a wild goose chase. That was just something I read very briefly on another forum. To tell you the truth I didn't believe it as it seems like it would be a nightmare for them to enforce. Sorry, but I can't seem to find the post again. I read so much that it is like getting lost in a maze sometimes.

By complex I was more referring to how they would enforce this policy. It doesn't really matter I guess because if you can't get a product to a person in 30 days I really think you should pack it in anyway LOL. :) 30 days seems way more than reasonable to me. It gives you time to find alternative means to fulfill the odd ot of stock customer order. It may even cost you money but hey, that is the price you pay sometimes. Do you know how they will penalize people who do not fill orders in 30 days?

Nash



bluepennylady
(Pooh-Bah)
09/20/08 02:15 PM
Re: populate an eBay store with an existing inventory new [re: Nash]  

Nash,

No worries. It wasn't a goose chase really. So no problem at all.

Primarily what happens is the buyer reports the offending seller to eBay. I do not recall exactly how many reports or incidents will trigger a warning and then suspension. But you can have your account suspended for x days or permanently depending on how the seller has handled the transaction.

What happens in many drop shipper incidents is the seller does not know for weeks the drop shipper has not shipped the item to the buyer. So let's say it is suppose to take 14 days for your drop shipper to ship an item out. And the buyer choose slow mail, Parcel, it could in reality be almost 30 days before you or the buyer are aware there is a problem with the order.

And then the buyer reports you to Paypal and eBay for "Item not received". You don't have an delivery confirmation number, can't find out when or where the product was shipped. The dispute is closed in favor of the buyer and you get the strike on your account.



Judy/blue

Visit my eBay store!
http://stores.ebay.com/bluepennylady?refid=store
Visit our website too!
http://www.pennyworthsales.com


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